Friday, October 14, 2016

Covenant

One of my favorite parts of a wedding ceremony is the exchanging of the rings. Officiants will talk about the ring being circular; symbolizing the love the couple is professing cannot be broken. They'll talk about the gold nature of the ring; gold being a precious and expensive metal, just as their love is valuable and irreplaceable. The ring is given as a symbol, a picture, of the covenant that couple is making with each other. 

The thing with covenants made between people though is the guarantee that they will, in one way or another, be broken. There is only One who can perfectly and faithfully keep His promises.

In the Old Testament, covenants between people happened through a covenant binding ceremony. Animals blood was spilled as they were cut in half and and placed across from each other. Both parties of the covenant walked through the animals, binding themselves to one another.

Genesis 15 gives us an inside look at God making His covenant with Abraham. God comes to him in a vision and reiterates the promise He first made with him in Genesis 12. He reminds Abraham that He has been faithful; He has delivered him. He reminds Abraham of these things: You will be great. Your offspring will be in more number than the stars. I will be your shield. Your reward will be great. I will bless you so that you will be a blessing (Genesis 12:2). 

We watch as God gets animals, cuts them in half, and sets them up for a covenant binding ceremony. Verses 17-18 says this, "When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram." The flame; that was God. I can't even get started on the beautiful workings of God when we consider where else in Scripture He takes that form: Moses and the burning bush; delivering the Israelites out of Egypt. Just astounding to consider it.

So we see this covenant ceremony where God is the only one who passes through the animals. In this covenant binding ceremony, the only One who binds Himself is God. He binds Himself in Abraham in a way that would not be broken. He is perfect in His love, steadfast in His promises. He covenants to Abraham that He will be His God; He will be faithful and steadfast, righteous and immovable.

That covenant is renewed in Moses and David- and in Jeremiah and Isaiah, we read promises and see glimpses of the New Covenant, which is to come through Christ. Over and over and over in Scripture we see account after account of God's faithfulness, of His "Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love" (Jesus Storybook Bible). His people continually failed and left Him, and He continually pursued them and promised them that He would never fail or forsake them, He would never leave them.

Galatians 3:13-14 says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hanged on a tree'- so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith." We are the inheritance of that promise. We are the Gentiles who received the blessing that God tells Abraham he would be a part of giving. This is incredible. Covenantal language is all throughout Scripture; it's not just for the Israelites, it's for us

I've been dwelling on all of this for a while. Today as I was reading through Genesis, I was struck with the desire to have a physical symbol to remind me of God's steadfast covenant. And I knew it was supposed to be a gold, circular ring. I bought a ring today and placed it on my left ring finger; as I've looked at it and felt it on my finger, I can't help but think of the shape. The circular nature of the ring, as stated before, shows that that love cannot be broken. The thing is, a persons love can (and will) be broken. It's not perfect in its nature; it's redeemed, yes, but so far from perfect. God's love, however, is perfect. It truly cannot, ever, be broken. It's intimate and personal, a love of pursuit, redemption and reconciliation. I can't help but think of the color either. It's gold. It reminds me of the pure and perfect nature of God's love for me. It's an costly love; given at the price of His Son's life. It's beautiful and deep and eternal. Just as a bride is reminded of her husbands loves for her as she looks at her ring, so am I reminded of God's love for me, in Christ Jesus (my husband), as I look at my ring. The symbolism, the parallelism, the depth- it really does bring me to tears. I pray I never lose sight of His covenantal love and faithfulness.

"For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but My steadfast love shall not depart from you, and My covenant of peace shall not be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:10 

 

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